That’s one hell of a title for a self-proclaimed “socialist”… Still, don’t worry. I don’t want any revolutions, nor do I want to get rid of democracy. That’s a whole other kind of socialism. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t an important topic, because democracy is a bad system. It has always been a bad system, and people have known that since Socrates ranked it fourth out of five in the list of possible regimes, thought to only be better than a tyranny. In many ways, Socrates was right. The West might have chosen it as the best regime for the 21st century, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best system for everyone.
The problems democracy faces are obvious. Everyone’s opinion counts, which means that very irrational politicians can easily get to power just as long as they shout whatever the ignorant public wants. Democracy takes the decision-making away from those who study situations and puts it in the hands of those who base their opinions on biased media and personal interpretation, which has made sure that the EU is forced to spend more time on calming down the citizens than actually making decisions. The same goes for protests, which definitely have some very important benefits, but which more often than not are spurred on by irrational thoughts and only make it more difficult for government to make the decisions they have to make.
Aside from that, democracy means discussion, and as important as that is, it certainly isn’t very efficient. One of the main complaints people have of their government is that they spend too much time talking and too little time doing, which then of course leads to protests, causing the government to spend some more time on talking about what to do with those protests while not doing anything about it. In the meantime, nobody actually has the power to take definite action, because it always requires support from the majority, and opposition is often fierce.
But, aside from providing everyone with an equal voice, the regime has one major benefit: it creates stability. Democracy is a terribly ineffective and damaging system, but it is always equally ineffective and equally damaging. It doesn’t have major ups and downs or times of prosperity followed by times of crisis. It always faces the same problems that are dealt with in the same way, and that provides that stability that is so incredibly important in today’s society.
That’s what makes it so much better than kingships or aristocracies. Those regimes might be much more effective and because they give power only to those who studied a certain issue, they are often much more rational, which means that they can achieve levels of prosperity that democracy never could, but at the same time, they can also achieve lows that democracy never could. Crises that could last for centuries. And history is long, so those crises will inevitably happen at some point.
So what does that mean in practice? Obviously, democracy is still the best option in Western countries, both because we need that stability and because everyone’s opinion counts, whether it is an educated opinion or not. After all, on certain issues the educated might be able to make better decisions, but sometimes they simply lack the knowledge of reality to make proper decisions for everyone. Still, as much as that might be the case in the West, perhaps it’s different in those countries where we’re currently trying to force democracies to emerge.
A country that is in the middle of a political crisis needs improvement. Rapid improvement. But such improvement cannot come from democracy, because it is too inefficient, and while it provides stability, it also requires stability. By the time an emerging democracy in such a country books any results, the riots on the streets will have overflowed. On top of that, democracy entails some enormous logistic issues, because how does a large country with underdeveloped infrastructure such as Thailand organise something as giant as an election without allowing corruption? All the while people are fighting on the streets? It’s impossible.
For Western countries, democracy is the least terrible option, but that doesn’t mean we should force it on other countries. That is the critical flaw in Western thinking. Democracy is not a solution to all their problems, and in many cases, it only damages the system further. Such a change can only be made with the support of the people, and it should come from within, rather than having it forced on them by outside forces. Perhaps the West should just accept that sometimes, democracy is not the answer. It’s a goal to strive for, not a solution.
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